Some U.S. Open competitors will gripe about Chambers Bay, USGA executive director Mike Davis assured Monday, because not all golfers are comfortable with the unknown.
“Chirping,” Davis called it.
The first chirp was a tweet, and it sounded like a squawk.
“Well several players have played Chambers Bay in preparation for U.S. Open. The reports back are it’s a complete farce,” Ian Poulter, a 20-year touring pro, tweeted Tuesday. “I guess someone has to win.”
Responded Peter Uihlein, who in 2010 won the first USGA championship event at Chambers Bay: “I didn’t mind it during the U.S. Amateur.”
In a subsequent tweet, Poulter pointed out that because he has yet to play the University Place course, he has no opinion about it. He was merely passing along the thoughts of those either unwilling or incapable of passing along their own thoughts.
Thanks for sharing, Ian. Between a forecast calling for chirping and Poulter’s reference to Chambers Bay as a “complete farce,” an entire day had gone by. I was beginning to think some the best golfers in the world might not be as dismayed about the unique conditions awaiting them as Mike Davis promised they’d be.
Give Poulter this much: His three-sentence tweet offered a sneak preview of the tone of the criticism we’ll hear in the days before, during and after the U.S. Open. As for the criticism itself? What will rankle those who are rankled?
“The chirping is going to be how some of these holes are going to play,” Davis said Monday. “Some players just love predictability, period. They want to know if I hit my ball 157 yards, it is going to stop. They do not want to have to go beyond that. They don’t like the idea of a semi-blind shot.
“Others embrace it. It is kind of like saying, ‘You like modern art and I like classic.’ One is not right, one is not wrong. It is a different way of looking at things.”
With fescue grass fairways as wide as a football field, and severe elevation changes along a coast line distinguished by a single fir tee, Chambers Bay isn’t just different. The former sand and gravel quarry will be home to the first American major-tournament golf tournament of its kind. For those intolerant of change, the U.S. Open portends four days of molar-grinding frustration.
Then again, when the field is cut after two days, those whose pouting has gotten the best of them will be free to take their talents to a more conventional venue.
Davis mentioned a four-time Open champion who was disinclined to bemoan the golf-course tweaks the USGA typically mandates before any tournament.
“Arguably the best U.S. Open player of all time, Jack Nicklaus – who, by the way, is our name sake on the gold U.S. Open medal – used to love it when he’d walk in and hear other players chirping,” Davis recalled. “He would say, ‘That player’s gone. I don’t have to worry about him.’ ”
Thanks to social media, complaining about an Open’s unfair degree of difficulty no longer is confined to the practice days immediately preceding the tournament. Poulter’s tweet informing the world what he’s hearing was sent more than six weeks before he’ll tee off in a round that counts at Chambers Bay.
Poulter, who beat Webb Simpson on Wednesday in the first round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Match Play at TPC Harding Park, is known as something of a loose cannon. At last count, he had 1.23-million twitter followers, second only to Tiger Woods on the PGA Tour – and we can only imagine his vitriolic tweets about Chambers Bay once he, like, walks it.
But what if Poulter plays the links style course as well as anybody? It seems to me a native of Stevenage, England, who grew up on links golf, would have an slight edge on those who didn’t grow up on links golf.
Besides, as Poulter put it, someone has to win.
But, hey, why consider such a possibility rationally when you can can grumble to 1.23-million social media followers about a place you’ve never seen?
In the meantime, Mike Davis is prepared for every disgruntled player’s assessment of a golf course destined to create disgruntlement.
“It would not be a U.S. Open if we didn’t get some chirping,” he said. “It’s just a part of it and we accept that. In fact, we joke internally sometimes that if nobody’s complaining, we have done something wrong.”
Well several players have played Chambers Bay in prep for US Open. The reports back are its a complete farce. I guess someone has to win.— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) April 29, 2015